Is mindfulness meditation safe?


#1

My psychologist gave me some “mindfulness” meditation and relaxing visualization cds to help me with my anxiety. He’s very into buddhist/ new agey kind of stuff. Is it safe to do this? I don’t want to end up opening the door to demonic influence with this stuff. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with learning to dwell in the present moment which is what mindfulness mediation seems to be about. And relaxing visualization seems harmless as well but I’m not sure.


#2

John

A link which may help
http://www.courageouspriest.com/warning-eastern-meditation-should-never-be-used

A couple of links for Catholic meditation

http://www.beginningcatholic.com/christian-meditation

http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/what-lectio-divina

God bless you with peace and joy, in each present moment!


#3

Thanks Trishie those are good links!


#4

Transcendental meditation, mantras etc, as referred to in the first article, is a very different beast from mindfulness.

Something as simple as deep breathing, with a focus on the actual process of the breath going in and out of the body, comes under the umbrella of “mindfulness”. No mantras are used, no deities are invoked, no “high” or spiritual experience of any kind is sought, simply physical and mental relaxation. As such it is purely an easy technique of calming an overworked, overworried or racing mind and body.

Nothing “spiritual”, “mystical” or even particularly “Eastern” about it that I’m aware of - I’ve heard that Western ballet dancers were using deep breathing techniques long before Eastern practices became fashionable. Just basic physiology and psychology. And, provided no occult spiritual or mystical practices are involved, about as dangerous as counting sheep to get to sleep.

Of course if you are concerned, then feel free to focus on the explicitly religious and Christian forms of meditation.


#5

Great to have your elucidation, LilyM, and always a pleasure to see you around.


#6

Aww shucks :blush: You too Trishie.


#7

First of all, remember that Pope St. JPII was fond of saying, “there is nothing to fear”.

Remember too, that Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI warned us against, I paraphrase, “opening the mind to the spirit without discernment”. In other words, if we aren’t properly prepared when we open ourselves up, any sort of spirit may enter.

And finally, in one of Father Gobbi’s revelations from the Virgin Mary, she said that there is only one form of true meditation, prayer.

Having said that, is there any way that you can turn your “mindfulness” meditation into a prayer?


#8

Yes I have been trying to turn my mindfulness meditation into a Christian prayer. Thomas Merton (if you trust him) said contemplation is “to find the place in you where you are here and now being created by God”


#9

I’ve never studied his works, although I’ve tried. Every time I begin to read anything he wrote, it becomes a drudgery. So, I put it down and seek something else.

But I have nothing against him. There are other famous writers whose books I can’t read. For example, I’ve only read one book by Chesterton (i.e. the everlasting man) which I enjoyed. Because of that book, I tried to read others, but couldn’t get past the first few pages.

I didn’t know that Thomas Merton was a controversial figure until now, when you asked if I trusted him. That made me curious, so I looked it up.

The bottomline for me is whether his writings contradict Catholic Teaching. If they don’t, then I trust him. But if the Catholic Church has deemed his writings unfit, I’d put it down.


#10

Here’s a short video on him. You can skip to 7:03 to listen to the part about his connection with eastern religion


#11

The quick response I have heard with regard to this is, “nature abhors a vacuum.” I find the rosary very relaxing. You might try doing a novena about your stress. If all else fails, go to your doctor, that is what they are for! Feel better!


#12

I agree. Mindfulness is based on Buddhism principles and the best form of mindfulness for a catholic is the rosary.


#13

I wonder how many Catholics who started to do centering prayer became Buddist? Catholic mindfulness meditation uses Buddhist techniques such as mantras and so forth.

Centering Prayer proposes an unorthodox relationship between God and the soul. It speaks of the spiritual life as coming to a greater consciousness, rather than conquering sin and learning to live according to God’s will. It misconstrues the place of the intellect and will in prayer.

Unfortunatetly there is a growing trend of Catholic retreats online. When one looks at the activities offered I have wondered if the facility even is Catholic because there are no courses on the saints, on the Catholic spiritual tradition, nor catechesis, but there are plenty of offerings about Zen Buddhism, yoga, and meditation.

My old parish would paticipate in mindfullness mediation during Mass, using a singing bowl to begin and end meditation. This is not of the Catholic Church and shattered the sanctity of mass.

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Discerment of Spirit is crucial before enthusiastically welcoming certain ideas originating in the religious meditation traditions of the Far East,


#14

Why do we fear something so natural? St John of the Cross talks about how inner silence or emptiness of thoughts takes us out of the dangers of Satan because the main way he bothers us is through our thoughts. What is “mindfulness” but awareness and vigilance? i think of it as resting in the reality of the present moment, and that is where we encounter God, in the reality of the present moment. It is not something we do. It is something we realize we are. Make room for Christ.


#15

One has to go above and beyond to open any kind of door to " demonic influences " plenty of people practice all kinds of meditation and use hypnosis for all sorts of reasons, guided meditations etc… A Catholic or Christian version of a guided meditation or hypnosis is not that different than any other forum other than the Catholic or Christian theme.

Like a basic soup base that one can add different proteins or veggies too, yet it is still just a healthy soup.

Youtube has plenty of good guided meditations of all kinds for what ever one is interested in,
Less you are talking about for prayer purposes then just stick to Catholic/Christian stuff.


#16

Johnz123

Thanks for bringing this subject up. I think I can help you here, because I have been practising mindfulness for some time. I was suffering from a psychosomatic skin complaint, and I use it to calm down. What many people do not realise is that these forms of meditation have side effects. Weird things can happen. In my case, I suddenly began to receive significant sums of money out of the blue. This might seem like a marvellous thing. But consider this. One way a person can receive money suddenly is being left something in a will. And that means somebody dies. And I had no control over how these sums of money were coming to me. The side effects will vary from person to person. The antidote is that you continue with your meditation and the side effects will go away. Instead I stopped practising mindfulness. I took it up again about a year later. Almost immediately, an unexpected cheque arrived in the mail. This time I continued with the meditation. I no longer receive unexpected sums of money. And nobody died.

Another problem is that you can suffer bad meditation sessions. The number and types of these “bad trips” will vary on your lifestyle and the problems you are trying to solve. The fewer and milder your psychological problems, the fewer your bad trips will be. If you are, say, a compulsive gambler, or a drug addict, or you are considering suicide, the more you will be made to suffer through meditation as part of the healing process.

Overall, I have found mindfulness beneficial. But no one should go into it thinking it is 100 percent pleasant, or that there are no backlashes. It is helpful if you have a lot of boring work to do, or if you are on a long bus journey.


#17

Mindfulness is a broad term. It can be great if it means slowing down and paying attention to what you are doing and the thoughts you are thinking. But, it can also be bad if you get into Eastern spiritual practices which would include their type of meditation. So what you were given could be bad but I can’t say not knowing the exact content.


#18

My only “bad” experiences were not being able to focus, settle down, too many thoughts of the day, distractions…certainly no unexpected cash.


#19

I don’t think the Rosary serves the same function as mindfulness meditation. Rosary involves keeping the mind busy with both the prayers and the mysteries. Mindfulness is just the opposite, sitting silently aware of the present moment and all that is in it without adding words or images as in the Rosary.


#20

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